In crustaceans, the pigment-dispersing hormone (PDH) is released from the X-organ/sinus gland complex located in the eyestalks, and controls pigment dispersion in the chromatophores. Knowledge concerning the structure and activity of PDH in penaeid shrimps is remains limited, since natural PDH has been purified from only the Kuruma prawn, Marsupenaeus japonicus. In this study, two PDHs (Liv-PDH-A and -B) were purified from the sinus gland extracts of another penaeid species, the whiteleg shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei, by two steps of reversed-phase HPLC, and their amino acid sequences were determined. They both consist of 18 amino acid residues, with a free N-terminus and an amidated C-terminus, the sequences of Liv-PDH-A and -B being NSELINSLL-GIPKVMNDAamide and NSELINSLLGLPKVMNDAamide, respectively. These sequences are identical to those of mature PDHs deduced from cDNAs encoding L. vannamei PDH precursors cloned previously by other workers. Liv-PDH-A and -B showed significant pigment-dispersing activity in melanophores by in vivo bioassay.